As reported at the Beltex Sheep Society’s recent Annual General Meeting, which took place at the Pinegrove Hotel, Carlisle, on Thursday, 9 December, the Society remains in a strong position despite a challenging couple of years for the agricultural industry.
The evening started with a minute’s silence to remember those who have sadly passed this year, a touching moment by outgoing Chairman, Mark Jennings, who has also been the Society’s Treasurer and highlighted the Society’s strong financial standing, mainly due to a reduction in spending at shows, sales and events affected by Covid-19 regulations.
Member numbers and lamb registrations continue to grow year on year too, thanks to the continuing number of new breeders looking to invest in the breed which not only produces one of the UK’s leading terminal sires but also produces highly valuable breeding females, both to pedigree and commercial markets.
With Mark Jennings stepping down from his roles as Chairman and Treasurer, taking on the Chairman hnours for the next term is Kevin Buckle, of the Buckles flock near Kirkby Stephen, with Kenny Preston, of the Glenpark flock near Dunbreen, Omagh, as his Vice-Chairman. Acting as Treasurer is James McGarva, Horseclose flock, Cummertrees, Annan.
There are four new additions to Council too following retirements and resignations. From England is Karen Shuttleworth, Heber Park flock, Gargrave, Skipton; from Ireland is Eddie O’Neill, Lagyveagh, flock, Glenarm, Ballymena; from Scotland is Andrew Morton, Lochend flock, Denny; and from Wales is Rhys Evans, Lomond flock, Mynyddcerrig, Llanelli.
The Society has welcomed a number of high prices this year, namely the 30,000gns BorderEsk Finders Keepers sold by Anne Story at the Carlisle Premier Sale in August and, just as impressively, the female record was set, equalled and reset – firstly at the Premier Sale by Buckles Frisky at 15,000gns for Kevin, Jack and Tom Buckle before, at the Beltex Beauties, it was equalled by Neale and Janet McQuistin’s Airyolland Furina and reset by Buckles Ferdie at 20,000gns.
Pedigree prices are certainly the highlight of sales, but the commercial demand from producers looking to add the Beltex premium to their lamb crop is unrivalled and surely envied by other breeds, as these producers are regularly willing to pay four-figure prices for rams – paying up to 8000gns for BorderEsk Fernando, and 4100gns for Cothi Fluke.
Commercial producers have certainly been flying the flag on the winter show circuit, claiming the Championship tickets at major shows the length and breadth of the country, from Agrifest South West up to the Thainstone Christmas Classic, with the reserve honours also mostly going to Beltex-sired lambs. This winning streak has continued to many of the local market Christmas show and sales too, highlighting the dominance of the breed in the marketplace as it repeatedly secures the top price at store and prime sales.